Landscaping a Front Yard | Creating Curb Appeal

Does your front yard need a makeover? Need better curb appeal? Or do you have a newly built home and are starting from scratch? Any of these scenarios can seem overwhelming to say the least. We want to share with you our process of landscaping a front yard.

You will find ideas for shrubs, flowers, low maintenance plants, hardscape and time saving tips. Everything you need to know to create a simply beautiful front yard.

I love a beautiful manicured yard, but I don’t have the time to spend hours each week on it. With this in mind, we chose low maintenance plants that provide color and texture, yet do not require a lot of attention. 

Scroll down for ideas to landscape your front yard that will give you the best curb appeal in the neighborhood.

How much does it cost to landscape a front yard?

Landscaping a front yard can cost between $1,500 to $5,000 on average and even more if you hire a landscaper. This can vary with the size of your yard. But we are frugal and will share DIY ideas that will help you stay on budget which will put a smile on your face!

What time of year is best to landscape?

The best time to begin landscaping and planting trees, shrubs, and perennials is in the months of April and May. These spring months will give your plants the opportunity to grow and acclimate during the summer and fall. However, the next best time to begin landscaping is the fall.

Fall is often overlooked as a time to landscape. But, often it is a great time to purchase plants.  In September you will often find trees, shrubs and perennials on sale, which means more bang for your buck.

Fall is also a great time of year for plants to acclimate in your garden. The temperatures begin to cool, yet the soil remains warm and promotes root growth. Just be sure not to plant too late in the season.

Our yard before updating landscaping

curb appeal
Landscaping a Front Yard

A quick peek at the landscaping in our front yard, before we dug into it. The photo on the left was taken in December the day we closed on our home. The one on the right is what it looked like when spring rolled around. 

We knew the inside of our home was a fixer upper, but the landscaping definitely needed some love too.

The shrubs were all overgrown and planted too close to the house. The flower beds were unkept and full of weeds.

Where to start?

Whether your yard needs a makeover, more curb appeal or it’s not landscaped at all, you may ask where do I start?

A great place to start is to tackle the weeds. A landscape that is weed free immediately looks better.

Then it’s time to come up with a plan.

Landscaping Design

The basic elements of landscape design are:

  • Color
  • Form
  • Line
  • Scale
  • Texture

Color:  keep in mind how colors interplay with the color of other basic elements, such as the color of your home. Repeat colors around the landscape. They do not necessarily need to be the same plant, just the same color tone. You will also want to pay attention  to how the colors play off of each other. 

As I was planning the landscaping for my front yard I loved how the light green of the  Halo dogwood played off the purple tones of the Barberry and Black Lace Elderberry. Repeating those colors throughout my yard forms a cohesive color palette.

Form: is the shape of a plant and the structure of its branching pattern. When designing your landscape keep in mind the form of the mature plant. 
Line: refers to the way your eye moves across the landscape. 
Scale: is simply the size of one component relative to adjacent components.
Texture: is the surface of a plant as it is perceived. Different size of leaves will create different texture as will grasses or pines trees.

Planning the Landscape Design

Spend some time online looking at plants that you are attracted too. Create a file with images of these plants.
Take advantage of free landscaping classes, it’s a great place to get ideas for landscaping your front yard.
We found classes in our area for free that are taught by landscape designers. This is a great way to get ideas from professionals.
When we began designing the landscape for our front yard we used to create a plan. This made it easy to see how colors and textures played off of each other. With our design in hand, we were prepared to go purchase plants at our local nursery.

Landscaping a Front Yard: Hardscapes

Landscaping a Front Yard

When we purchased our home it had this odd, sort of courtyard area. It was enclosed by 2 brick columns and an iron railing. Inside this area there was a small circle of grass and a hedge. It made no sense at all.

Landscaping a Front Yard

The columns were unstable and were easily demolished. However, the foundation for the columns was another story!  With 3 feet of cement, it required a jack hammer to break up the concrete.

Landscaping a Front Yard

Including a hardscape in a landscape is an ideal way to expand outdoor living area. Hardscapes compliment the “softscaping,” that is the trees, shrubs, and flowers that provide natural beauty.

Adding a small paver patio in the front yard was just what our front yard landscape needed. It provided a place to gather and sit with friends since we have such a small front porch.

Once the paver patio was installed, we planted Woolly thyme to soften the edges of the patio.

Landscaping a Front Yard: Irrigation

Landscaping a Front Yard

If an automated irrigation system is in your budget I would highly recommend it. It is difficult to manually keep a yard watered.

Since this was an existing landscape, there was already an irrigation system in place. However, we extended flower beds and changed the overall watering pattern so adjustments needed to be made.

I also wanted drip irrigation for all of the flower beds. Not only does drip irrigation save water, but it also helps prevent weeds from sprouting. This is an easy DIY that anyone can do. You can get help at Home Depot planning out your drip irrigation system.

Landscaping a Front Yard: shrubs

Landscaping a Front Yard

The right foundation planting for most houses is a nice mix of evergreen and deciduous shrubs.

Shrubs soften the hard lines of a house. When selecting shrubs, think of mature height, (read the tags on the plants) not the height of the plant when you see it at the nursery.

That cute little shrub at the nursery may soon grow to block the view from your window. We chose dwarf shrubs so that we do not need to prune, like our Halo Dogwoods and Little Lime Hydrandea.

Here are some of my favorite shrubs:

  • Mugo Pine
  • Halo Dogwood
  • Black Lace Elderberry
  • Dwarf Forsythia
  • Boxwood
  • Euonymus
  • Barberry
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Hydrangea
  • Burning Bush
  • Snowball Bush
  • Spirea
  • Weilgela
Landscaping a Front Yard

What flowers are best for front yard?

A variety of perennials (flowers that come back year after year) can provide a lot of  color when landscaping a front yard. Look for perennials that bloom at different times during the season. This will provide you with color throughout the year.

Some of my favorite perennial flowers are:

  • Yarrow
  • Daylily
  • Salvia
  • Veronica
  • Hosta
  • Lavender
  • Aster
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Purple Cone Flower
  • Delphinium
  • Hydrangea
  • Peony
  • Phlox
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Coreopsis
  • Bleeding Heart

I like to also add a few annuals (flowers than only bloom for one season) to my garden as well. This will add color that will last the entire season.

Some of my favorite annual flowers are:

  • Petunia
  • Zinnia
  • Geranium
  • Begonia
  • Impatiens
  • Cosmos
  • Dahlias
  • Marigold
  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons
  • Sunflowers
Landscaping a Front Yard

I like to use as many perennials in my yard as possible. This is a big budget saver! Planting flowers once and enjoying them year after year can save you hundreds of dollars over the years. 

The perennials I have planted in my landscaping for my front yard are daylily, salvia, miniature rose, hydrangea and liatris.

For constant color throughout the summer I like to add a few annuals. This year I planted zinnias and petunias.

It’s nice to switch things up a bit each year.

Keeping it Natural

Landscaping a Front Yard

When choosing plants for my yard I want to keep them as natural as possible. Select dwarf shrubs so they never need to be pruned. Choose perennials that do not become invasive. Weeding out perennials that have taken over a flower bed is no fun!

Use curves to keep a natural looking landscape. You will never see a straight line in nature. 

Use plants to draw the eye towards the front door by lining the walkway with flowers and shrubs.

Compost in the Flower beds

Compost is an efficient and practical fertilizer. Composed of decayed organic matter, compost is a basic tool for the organic gardener. However it is a great way to keep weeds at bay as well. Adding a 1-2″ layer of compost will greatly reduce the number of weeds in your flower garden, which means less time weeding.

We have added compost to our flower beds for years. Not only is it a huge time saver, but it also adds wonderful nutrients to the soil. Your plants will love you!

Budget friendly ideas

Landscaping a Front Yard

Installing a new landscape can be expensive, so here are some ideas that can save you money.  

DIY what you can. Labor cost can rack up quickly. If there is any way that you can do it yourself, do it! It will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Get plant starts from friends and family. My design plan for my front yard included the Mary Todd Daylily. My neighbor happened to be thinning her daylily and gave me enough plants to have 12 mounds of daylily. Score 🙌🏻 for me! Free plants! 

Buy perennials and shrubs in the fall when they are on sale.

Look for a wholesaler in your area that may sale to the public a few times a year. That is exactly what we did when landscaping our front yard. We were able to get our shrubs 50% off the retail price. 🙌🏻

Most landfills offer compost. It is much less expensive than getting it through a retailer.

Add a barrier between the flower beds and the grass.  We used the inexpensive professional grade of plastic edging. Edging is a must, or you will be weeding grass out of your flower beds.

We hope that you have found some helpful ideas for creating a landscape for your front yard.

Thank you for spending time with us!

If you have questions or comments about landscaping a front yard, please drop us a line in the comment section. We’d love to hear from you! 

If you are new here WELCOME!  We’re glad to have you here, and are always so excited to have new readers and friends! You can learn more about us here. 

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 Sunny Side Design


Landscaping a Front Yard

See more ideas for creating a beautiful outdoor space here. 

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hmm..instead of installing then maintaining an irrigation system to largely support a lawn that statistics show won’t be used much, I favour more of the meadow plants you show such as liatris and daylily. These and other water thrifty plants should be dominant in modern design, not used and color and texture accents. In my opinion!

    1. Thank you Brent for visiting our site. We have actually removed a large portion of our lawn. However, we feel like we need a little lawn in the front yard to ground the space. We have no lawn in the backyard and we do find ourselves using the lawn in the front yard. I do respect your opinion and do love adding a variety of plants to add interest and texture to my garden. We are not professionals here, we just enjoy our space.

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